Abrus precatorius, known commonly as jequirity, Gunj (गुंज in Marathi), Crab's eye, rosary pea, John Crow Bead, precatory bean, Indian licorice, Akar Saga, gidee gidee or Jumbie bead in Trinidad & Tobago, is a slender, perennial climber that twines around trees, shrubs, and hedges. It is a legume with long, pinnate-leafleted leaves.
The plant is best known for its seeds, which are used as beads and in percussion instruments, and which are toxic due to the presence of abrin. The plant is native to Indonesia and grows in tropical and subtropical areas of the world where it has been introduced. It has a tendency to become weedy and invasive where it has been introduced.
The toxin abrin is a dimer consisting of two protein subunits, termed A and B. The B chain facilitates abrin's entry into a cell by bonding to certain transport proteins on cell membranes, which then transport the toxin into the cell. Once inside the cell, the A chain prevents protein synthesis by inactivating the 26S subunit of the ribosome. One molecule of abrin will inactivate up to 1,500 ribosomes per second.
Symptoms are identical to those of ricin, except abrin is more toxic by almost two orders of magnitude; the fatal dose of abrin is approximately 75 times smaller than the fatal dose of ricin. Abrin can kill with a circulating amount of less than 3 micrograms.Abrin has an estimated human fatal dose of 0.1–1 µg/kg. Ingesting the intact seeds typically results in no clinical findings, as they pass through the gastrointestinal tract due to their hard shell.
Abrus precatorius, called kudri mani in Tamil and guru ginja in Telugu, has been used in Siddha medicine for centuries. The Tamil Siddhars knew about the toxic effects in plants and suggested various methods which is called "suththi seythal" or purification. This is done by boiling the seeds in milk and then drying them. The protein is denatured when subjected to high temperatures which removes its toxicity.[dubious ]
The seeds of Abrus precatorius are much valued in native jewelry for their bright coloration. Most beans are black and red, suggesting a ladybug, though other colors are available. Jewelry-making with jequirity seeds is dangerous, and there have been cases of death by a finger-prick while boring the seeds for beadwork.
In Trinidad in the West Indies the brightly coloured seeds are strung into bracelets and worn around the wrist or ankle to ward off jumbies or evil spirits and "mal-yeux" - the evil eye. The Tamils use Abrus seeds of different colors. The red variety with black eye is the most common, but there are black, white and green varieties as well.
The seeds of Abrus precatorius are very consistent in weight. Formerly Indians used these seeds to weigh gold using a measure called a Ratti, where 8 Ratti = 1 Masha; 12 Masha = 1 Tola (11.6 Grams).
Traditional medicine 
In Siddha medicine, the white variety is used to prepare oil that is claimed to be an aphrodisiac. A tea is made from the leaves and used to treat fevers, coughs and colds. Seeds are poisonous and therefore are used after mitigation. The plant is also used in Ayurveda. 
Laboratory study of extracts 
A variety of pharmacological effects have been observed in rodents, but have not been demonstrated clinically in humans, including:
- An ethanolic extract of Abrus precatorius was found to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and analgesic potential in rodents.
- A methanolic extract of A. precatorius seeds causes reversible alterations in the estrous cycle pattern and completely blocked ovulation in Sprague-Dawley rats.
- The methanolic extract produces dose-dependent bronchodilator activity in a guinea pig model.
Abrus precatorius has different names in various Indian and other languages.
- Assamese: Latumoni (লাটুমণি)
- Sanskrit: Gunja (गुंजा)
- Marathi: Gunj (गुंज)
- Hindi : Ratti; Gaungchi; Gunchi; Gunja (गुंजा)
- Kreyòl ayisyen : Grenn Legliz; Lyann Legliz
- Bengali: Kunch; Koonch
- Gujarati: Gumchi; Chanothi
- Kannada: Gulaganji (ಗುಲಗಂಜಿ)
- Kashmiri: Shangir
- Malayalam: Kunni; Kunnikkuru (കുന്നിക്കുരു)
- Persian: Gunchi; Chashami-Khurosa
- Punjabi : Mulati
- Tamil: Gundumani; Kunthamani
- Sinhala: Olinda
- Telugu: Gurivinda (గురివింద)
- ِArabic : عين العفريت
- Nepali: Ratigedi (रातिगेडी)
- Hebrew: Avrus (אברוס)
- Yoruba: Ewe Omisinmisin or Ewe Ewerejeje
See also 
- Wagstaff, D. Jesse (2008). International Poisonous Plants Checklist: An Evidence-Based Reference. CRC Press. p. 1. ISBN 1420062522. Retrieved October 7, 2012.
- Bisby, Frank (1994). Phytochemical Dictionary of the Leguminosae, Volume 1. CRC Press. p. 1. ISBN 0412397706. Retrieved October 7, 2012.
- Mendes (1986), p. 79.
- Jang D.H., Hoffman R.S., Lewis L.S. "Attempted suicide, by mail order: Abrus precatorius".Clinical Toxicology. Conference: 2010 International Congress of the European Association of Poisons Centres and Clinical Toxicologists Bordeaux France. Conference Start: 20100511 Conference End: 20100514. Conference Publication: (var.pagings). 48 (3) (pp 308),
- Knight, Anthony; Walter, Richard (2001). A Guide to Plant Poisoning of Animals in North America. Teton NewMedia. p. 121. ISBN 1893441113. Retrieved October 7, 2012.
- Raamachandran, J. "Herbs of Siddha medicines: The First 3D Book on Herbs", page 2.
- Verma, D.; Tiwari, S. S.; Srivastava, S.; Rawat, A. (2011). "Pharmacognostical evaluation and phytochemical standardization of Abrus precatorius L. seeds". Natural Product Sciences 17 (1): 51–57.
- Arora, R.; Gill, N. S.; Kaur, S.; Jain, A. D. (2011). "Phytopharmacological evaluation of ethanolic extract of the seeds of Abrus precatorius linn". Journal of Pharmacology and Toxicology 6 (6): 580–588.
- Okoko, I. I.; Osinubi, A. A.; Olabiyi, O. O.; Kusemiju, T. O.; Noronha, C. C.; Okanlawon, A. O. (2010). "Antiovulatory and anti-implantation potential of the methanolic extract of seeds of Abrus precatorius in the rat". Endocrine practice 16 (4): 554–560.
- Mensah, A. Y.; Bonsu, A. S.; Fleischer, T. C. (2011). "Investigation of the bronchodilator activity of abrus precatorius". Int J Pharm Sci Rev Res 6 (2): [pp. 9–13].
- Dr. K. M. Nadkarni's Indian Materia Medica, Volume 1, Edited by A. K. Nadkarni, Popular Prakashan, Bombay, 1976, pp. 5.
More References 
- Mendes, John (1986). Cote ce Cote la: Trinidad & Tobago Dictionary. Arima, Trinidad.
- Abrus precatorius seed (extremeclose-up)
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- ITIS * North America: Abrus precatorius
- Abrus precatorius: Plant of deadly but most beautiful seeds at Disabled World
- INCHEM - Chemical Safety Information from Intergovernmental Organizations: Abrus precatorius L.
- Abrus precatorius Linn. Medicinal Plant Images Database (School of Chinese Medicine, Hong Kong Baptist University) (traditional Chinese)(English)
- Abrus precatorius in West African plants - A Photo Guide.